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Soft Sessions – Live in Concert (streamed performance)

Six busy young West End musical theatre performers take advantage of diary space freed up by lockdown to explore what music means to them. Stepping outside their usual repertoire, they solo and duet on everything from The Turtles to Beyonce. Between numbers, each speaks a little about how they experience music and what it does for them.

Grace Mouat and Courtney Stapleton open the show with “Teach you.” An upbeat rhythm about having to explain. It is clear from the start how much thought went into matching the voices and producing the timing to maximise the impact of the song.

Mouat then reveals a passion for taking older songs and giving them a modern twist. Mixing “Happy Together” (The Turtles) with Rogers and Hart’s “Funny Valentine” and slowing both right down allows her to use one to explain the other in a wonderfully unexpected manner. What she might do with the Bacharach songbook could be interesting.

The much softer “Hide and Seek” by Courtney Stapleton and Eloise Davies brings together two complementary voices and Harrison Wilde’s engaging guitar to answer the question of where did you run to?

Stapleton explains how she finds emotional release in music, Davies that for her it is a bonding experience, a conversation starter allowing her to share.

With Martha Kirby, Eloise is led in a slightly 70s sounding number full of opportunities to back each other up and for Martha to become increasingly animated.

Kirby turns out to be a Madonna fan, finding release in the early catalogue. Forward a few decades in the Diva division, Beyonce’s “Resentment” is delivered with a profound range of emotions culminating in a particularly punchy and memorable delivery of the final lines.

The only male in the line-up, Jake Halsey-Jones and Danielle Fiamanya connect both vocally and metaphorically on “Never Too Much,” getting the most fun possible from both the vocal and working together.

Halsey-Jones then goes solo for “All Fired Up,” proving the point he makes for himself that to him music expresses something inexplicable, and that singing it is the only way to do so. Well, that and wearing amusingly embroidered dungarees, perhaps.

Fiamanya rounds off the show with another Beyonce-linked work, “Runnin’(Loose it All)."  Happy to be a survivor, musically this harks back to “Funny Valentine” and is another call to a lover – which could just be melody itself.

With a few amusing words from all involved to round things off, this is a diverting 45 minutes of young performers revealing a little more about themselves and what they can do, proving there is more to them than just delivering musical theatre well.

4 stars.

Available to stream until 2nd May 2021 at
Tickets: £12.50 (plus booking fee)


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